Suppose for a moment that the Constitution of Pakistan is unanimously amended by the Parliament and an article is inserted saying, “from here on in all military takeovers/coups are declared illegal and treasonous and no court of law shall legitimise such a takeover…”. High-minded as it would be, one needs to be fantastically gullible or hopelessly optimistic to believe that mere tinkering with some legal provisions is all that is required for uninterrupted democratic governance. This may seem odd to you coming from someone who makes his sustenance on legalese but law is not really all that it is made out to be and especially not what our media would lead (or perhaps, like) you to believe. Firstly, a military coup is by definition extra-constitutional (or to quote the Supreme Court from the past meta/supra-constitutional) and hence, it will be merely another clause violated and on most occasions, the khakis are not overly concerned about constitutional nuance anyways. Secondly, the courts would read such an article as creatively as they desire since interpretation is, admittedly, their prerogative. However, the hypothetical article would serve some purpose insofar as it will make it more embarrassing for the courts and maybe even for the military adventurers, although they are generally immune from such petty sensibilities.
By Vikram Sood
Benazir Bhutto made five pilgrimages to the Dargah Sharif of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, the last being in 2005. She wanted to visit one more time in 2007 but this did not materialise. Instead, she went home to Pakistan to a tumultuous welcome but ultimately to become yet another Bhutto martyr. Her friends had cautioned her that her return to Pakistan could be dangerous for her but Benazir insisted that the country needed her. Quite apparently, there were powerful figures in her country who did not want her alive. So she became the fourth Bhutto to die a violent unnatural death.
By Praveen Swami
Pakistan’s civilian rulers seem to have averted a possible coup with a little help from inside the army itself.
Eight weeks ago, as rumours of an imminent coup swirled around Islamabad, few seemed to doubt democratic rule in Pakistan would soon be marched before a firing squad.
Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former Ambassador to the United States, had been recalled to face charges of conspiring to sack top military officials. There was even talk of a treason trial targeting President Asif Ali Zardari himself — with Mr. Haqqani as the Army’s star witness.
Events since, however, haven’t quite panned out as hardline Pakistani generals might have anticipated: instead of capturing power, the army has found itself in retreat.
Mr. Zardari, Pakistani media have reported, is almost certain to deny the Director-General of the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, Lieutenant-General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, an extension to serve until 2013 — a blow directed at Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, and a sign of civilian confidence.
In November, Pakistan’s military had shut down the Shamsi airbase, used to stage United States drone attacks against Islamist insurgents: actions intended to distinguish them from political rulers too-willing to please the United States. Last month, though, drone strikes resumed — directed by United States intelligence officers located at the Shahbaz airbase near Abbottabad.
Politicians have become increasingly defiant of ISI authority: even Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, who has long shied away from controversy, warned against efforts to run “a state within a state”.
The Generals’ consensus
LONG held together by a Generals’ consensus on the direction Pakistan ought to head in, the army now seems divided as never before. Last month, at a January 13 meeting of the corps commanders conference, where Gen. Kayani briefed generals on the evolving political crisis , he ran into unexpected in-house resistance, leading to a 10-hour debate.
The toughest questioning, a Pakistani government source privy to the discussions told The Hindu, came from Lieutenant-General Tariq Khan — the commander of the Mangla-based 1 corps, and a veteran of counter-insurgency operations who is considered among the most competent of the army’s commanders
Gen. Khan, the source said, made clear the army was unprepared to take power, and demanded to know how the army chief intended to resolve the still-unfolding showdown with the civilian governments. He noted that the army had no coherent plan to address its increasingly-fragile relationship with the United States, too. Backed by other key officers, like Gujaranwala-based XXX corps commander Raheel Sharif, Gen. Khan pushed for the army to pull back from the brink.
Ever since the killing of military ruler Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq in 1998, the corps commanders conference has been a key instrument of what Mr. Haqqani once described as “military rule by other means”. The resistance faced by Gen. Kayani within the institution is, therefore, of great significance.
Ever since he took office, Pakistan’s army chief had worked to rebuild the army’s relationship with the jihadist groups it had patronised for decades. Terrorism in Pakistan, he argued, had come about because the country had become enmeshed in the United States’ war against jihadists in Afghanistan. Building peace, he argued, necessitated reviving this relationship — even at the cost of ties with the United States.
In 2008, Gen. Pasha delivered an off-the-record briefing to journalists, where he described Tehreek-e-Taliban commanders Baitullah Mehsud and Maulana Muhammad Fazlullah — responsible for hundreds of killings in Pakistan — as “patriots”.
Following the raid that claimed Osama bin Laden last year, Mr. Pasha put the case for an aggressive anti-United States line to Pakistani legislators: “At every difficult moment in our history”, he said “the United States has let us down. This fear that we can’t live without the United States is wrong.”
Gen. Kayani’s line, the government’s decision not to allow his spymaster to serve on suggests, no longer represents the army’s institutional consensus.
The path to peace he envisaged involved costs the army isn’t willing to pay.
– Pakistan at a Crossroads, Again
For democracy to take root, the Zardari government must be allowed to complete its five-year term.
BY SADANAND DHUME
Who gets to decide when a democratically elected government’s time is up? To the average Japanese, Indian or American, the answer is obvious: the same people who voted it into office in the first place. Not so for the average Pakistani.
In the country’s 64-year history, power has never changed hands purely by the ballot. The army, working alone or in tandem with sympathetic civilians, hasn’t let any elected leader finish his term, thanks to which democracy has failed to seep into the country’s foundations. Now, if a loose grouping of generals, judges and opposition politicians gets its way, this …
Read more » The Wall Street Journal (wsj)
By Tarek Fatah
Few leaders have emulated Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, who in 1985 relinquished all of his powers and voluntarily stepped down as president of the country. At a time when African dictators, Arab Kings and Latin American generalissimos adorned themselves in bizarre military uniforms, medieval costumes and got appointed ‘life presidents’, Nyerere, known to his people simply as Mwalimu or “teacher”, quietly passed on the torch. Other Afro-Asian leaders have done the exact opposite. Notably, Mugabe, Qaddafi and the King of Saudi Arabia it seems will only leave office when the angel of death descends.
From Canada, it seems impossible to imagine that anyone at the top would ever dare to relinquish power. Whether it is the Saudi kings or Mugabe or Qaddafi, it seems in the third world, only divine intervention brings about change.
However, a quarter century later, on Monday, April 19, an echo of Nyerere’s rare statesmanship was heard and witnessed on another continent. With a simple signature, President Asif Zardari of Pakistan signed away most of his executive powers he had inherited from military predecessors to become the country’s ceremonial head of state. For 40 years military dictators who had overthrown elected governments had ruled unconstitutionally with a complicit judiciary that had legitimised their acts of treason. Zardari’s action nullified decades of damage to give Pakistan the chance for a fresh start.
In the words of columnist Raza Rumi, Pakistan “crossed a major milestone” when all of the country’s political parties — the ruling alliance and the opposition — reached a consensus on the 18th Amendment to the country’s constitution. He wrote, “The distortions inserted by the military rule have been done away with. Political elites this time, however, have gone a step further and improved the state of provincial autonomy. Perhaps this is where a civilian negotiation and democratic politics of compromise has been most effective. Who would have thought a few years ago that this was achievable? There were many sceptics who thought that the amendments might not be approved. However, the ‘corrupt’ and ‘incompetent’ politicians have proved everyone wrong.”
Few years ago when Zardari was unanimously elected president by the country’s National Assembly, Senate and all members of the four provincial legislatures, he had promised that he would work to amend the country’s constitution so that no future president was able to dismiss an elected parliament or usurp power. At the time few people believed he would do what he was promising. After all, who in his right mind gives up power, willingly?
Zardari has proven all his critics wrong and in doing so has changed the course of Pakistan’s history. The man lampooned unfairly by the country’s powerful establishment — the media, the generals and the judges — as “Mr Ten Percent” has in fact given “One-Hundred-and-Ten Percent” back to the country. While the nation celebrates, still in disbelief that anyone at the top was willing to curtail their own powers, his critics in the armed forces and the judiciary are foaming with anger, unable to stop him from enshrining democracy as an immutable reality in Pakistan.
The country’s Punjab-dominated judges and generals, though smarting from this setback, still wield the power to undo this historic development. In fact, as he signed the document, President Zardari did not shy away from suggesting there may still be some generals lurking in the shadows who may stage a military coup with the backing of the judiciary.
After the signing ceremony Zardari took everyone by surprise when he said while the doors stood closed to dictators, “mishaps” could not be ruled out. Asked about the possibility of another dictatorship, he said, “I am fully confident that no dictator would dare step in now, but then, who can rule out mishaps?”
Ever the realist, the man who has witnessed the murder of his wife, the former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the judicial assassination of his father-in-law, Prime Minister ZA Bhutto and two of his wife’s brothers, Zardari has seen death at close quarters and I am told he has warned the military as well the judiciary that any attempt to stage a military coup will have to contend with his dead body. “I will go down like Allende, not Nawaz Sharif,” he told a common friend and those who know him since his days at a military cadet college say the man keeps his word.
by Omar Ali
Pakistan’s greatest cricketing hero and second most successful philanthropist entered politics 15 years ago, promising a progressive, Islamic, modern, corruption-free Pakistan. His position as the most successful captain in Pakistan’s cricket history, the founder of Pakistan’s finest cancer hospital (providing free modern cancer care to thousands) provided him instant cachet, but for a long time he was unable to convert this personal popularity into votes in actual elections. With a political platform heavy on slogans (particularly against corruption) but short on specifics and without any obvious connection to already existing grass-roots politics, he remained little more than a fixture on the talk-show circuit for a very long time. Brief flirtation with Pervez Musharraf also set him back, as did a tendency to spout fables about Jirgas and hobnob with jihadi ideologues like Hamid Gul. But his biggest problem was his failure to create a team that could carry his party forward. The Pakistani Tehreek e Insaf was a one man show, with Imran Khan its only impressive asset. Even in parties dominated by one strong leader, there are other leaders in the wings and a semi-coherent ideology that delivers a section of the vote-bank on ideological grounds alone. Imran had no visible team and no clear ideology beyond a promise to “eradicate corruption”.
He did seem to genuinely believe in the formulaic slogans and historical framework of the 6th grade “ideology of Pakistan” he learned in Aitcheson college. He has some vague notion of “the two nation theory” (basically, “we are not Indians”) and an even vaguer “respect” for Quaid E Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah and the Allama Iqbal, twin icons of Pakistan’s history. But like his middle class fans, it is a superficial and shallow belief system, with little to show beyond a few empty slogans like “Pakistan first”, “Islamic welfare state” and “we are all Pakistanis now, so we are no longer Punjabis, Sindhis, Pakhtoons or Balochis”. Behind the automatic repetitions of such slogans there does lurk an odor of “one folk, one party, one leader” fascism (as it does behind all crude nationalisms) but this is not to imply that Imran Khan is consciously thinking of leading a fascist takeover of Pakistan. His commitment to some notion of democracy seems genuine enough, though his priority (and this is not unusual among middle class nationalists) is nationalism, not democracy; in a crisis, he can easily convince himself that we may have to kill democracy to save the country. In any case, lacking organization and experience and without a good grasp of actual grass-roots politics, he was easily brushed aside by older established political parties.
– Waseem Altaf
They give a damn when it comes to worthless civilians and more so in case of corrupt politicians but when feel the need to signal the world that the whole nation stands behind them, orchestrate such gatherings. However, perhaps the time is over for such theatrics. This time around popular leaders from Baluchistan were not invited because they don’t like their faces but militant mullahs were very much part of the APC.
The Prime Minister gave his address by reading a carefully crafted paper rejecting the US allegations and “do more demand” and also stressed his complete support to the valiant armed forces.
The DG.ISI categorically denied any links with Haqqani network and any export of terrorism. However Mian Nawaz Sharif countered him and asked if that was so why the whole world accused Pakistan? General Kayani and Molvi Munawwar Hassan of Jamaat-e-Islami, the hand in glove came to Pasha’s rescue. Mahmood Achakzai stated that if ISI wanted, there could be peace in Afghanistan within a month. The gallant sons of the soil however could not muster enough courage to even name the US or even its functionaries in the draft of the resolution and the drone issue was not even discussed.
Let us look at the general and vague clauses of the APC resolution:-
A) The already passed resolutions of the Parliament should be implemented.
Yes sure, but a little difficult task for you guys. How about hiring some overseas consultants to get those implemented after all we do import professionals to get things done.
B) Pakistan wants good relations with all countries.
Yes you want to have good relations with other countries but also want to continue with mischief mongering. Unfortunately the two things don’t go together.
C) The focal point of Pakistan’s foreign policy is peace in the region.
Yes that is why you facilitated peace in Afghanistan (1979-89) and in Indian administered Kashmir (1989-99) Peace in Baluchistan and Karachi is immaterial for those who think “international”
D) Defense of Pakistan is the first and foremost duty of the people and defense forces of Pakistan.
Maybe it’s the first and foremost duty of people of Pakistan but please let the defense forces defend the Defense Housing Societies .And please also defend your citizens in your own country. They are being abducted and bombed and killed within your so called jurisdiction.
E) Pakistan rejects all baseless allegations.
Okay! So allegations leveled by you have a base but the Indian and the Afghan allegations, the American and the British ones and perhaps those by Iran and China are all baseless. And surely the allegation of murder of Saleem Shahzad by ISI should also be baseless.
F) Pakistan wants negotiations with all groups who want peace.
Unfortunately you only want negotiations with those who don’t want peace.
G) To move forward Pakistan should focus on trade and not aid.
Good realization after 64 years of coming into existence.
Perhaps the grapes are turning sour.
Courtesy: → SPN → South Asian Pulse